Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2012 Week 8

The St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A club had a rough week, going 1-6, including being swept at home by Iowa.

Overview

Trying to build off a 3-3 record last week to string together only their second winning record of any weekly report period thus far, the Memphis Redbirds did not begin well. They dropped their second and third games in Tucson (San Diego Padres) to start off the week by giving up 18 total runs and amassing just five for themselves. The two losses stretched their losing streak to five games before Bryan Anderson had the best game of any Memphis batter this season to drive the Redbirds past Tucson in 11 innings to end their losing streak and avoid the sweep. Their situation turned for the worse, however, when they came home for an eight-game home streak and began by dropping the entire four-game series to the Iowa Cubs. Poor hitting, starting pitching, clutch hitting, relief pitchers, and an extra-base hit drought all combined for a week that was made up of six losses and just one win.

The Redbirds offense experienced a slight decline this week as their batting average dropped from .246 to .244 and their OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) fell three points to .664, which is 24 points below the next-to-last place team Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). Their earned-run average also increased to 4.50 and dropped from sixth to seventh in that category in the hitter-friendly league.

As the Redbirds lost six of seven games this week, they fell from 0.5 games back of their cross-state rival Nashville Sounds to 3.5 games, while sinking further into the cellar. The Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) are currently running away with the American Northern Division with a seven-game lead over the second-place Iowa Cubs.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, May 22nd: Tucson 9, Memphis 2
The Redbirds totaled just five hits on the night, two of which came off the bat of Steven Hill. Bryan Anderson hit a two-run home run to score Memphis' only runs of the night, and Jamie Romak added a double to drill the only other Redbirds extra-base hit.

Nick Additon limited himself to two extra-base hits but was excessively wild to the tune of five walks and five total hits that led to five runs crossing the plate. Chuckie Fick surrendered two home runs to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning.

Wednesday, May 23rd: Tucson 9, Memphis 3
Memphis pitchers allowed nine runs to score for the second night in a row, which mostly resulted from Brian Broderick's poor outing. Four of the eight runs Broderick surrendered were unearned due to Aaron Bates' throwing error in the third inning, during which the Padres plated seven runs. Broderick lasted just 2.2 innings and gave up his eight total runs off six hits and three walks. Maikel Cleto, Adam Reifer, and Clay Zavada pitched three perfect innings and struck out five total batters.

Former Cardinals Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes combined to mostly shut down the Cardinals through nine innings. Redbirds batters combined for just five hits again with no batter having more than one hit. Mark Hamilton drove in two with a single in the fourth, while Ryan Jackson scored the only other run with solo-shot in the sixth, his second blast of the year. Zack Cox drilled his 14th double.

Thursday, May 24th: Memphis 7 at Tucson 6 (11 innings)
Memphis took the final game in Tucson to avoid the four-game sweep. Bryan Anderson was the star of the night after he went 6-for-6 to collect over a third of the Redbirds' astounding 16 total hits. The catcher smacked his fifth and sixth doubles of 2012. Pete Kozma launched two homers, his fourth and fifth of the year, to drive in four runs, while Mark Hamilton added three hits (one double), and Ryan Jackson collected his 11th double of the season.

John Gast took the mound for his second start for the Redbirds and pitched a second quality start by letting three runs (one earned) cross the plate off five hits and two walks in six innings. Chuckie Fick took the win with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, while Adam Reifer picked up his first save of the year with a scoreless 11th.

Friday, May 25th: Iowa 2 at Memphis 1
For the second time in the past three games, no Memphis batter collected more than one hit, with the team total seven. Cedric Hunter lined his sixth double and was the only Redbirds player to record an extra-base hit. Pete Kozma wore the golden sombrero after striking out four times on the night.

Joe Kelly pitched a gem with a seventh-inning start in which he allowed just one run off four hits (one double), one walk, and a hit batter. All but two of Kelly's 15 outs recorded in the field were via ground balls. The game was tied in the ninth before Maikel Cleto gave up what would turn out to be the winning run via a home run by Luis Valbuena.

Saturday, May 26th: Iowa 6 at Memphis 4
Shelby Miller's fastball was hovering around 93-94 mph through the first inning but started to slip to 90-92 after that. Miller ended up allowing three runs, two of which came off two solo-home runs to right field. The Texas native showed good command by not allowing a walk, but he wasn't able to fool many Iowa Cubs batters with three strikeouts in his 5.1 innings, down from his normal strikeout ratio. The game was tied 4-4 until the eighth inning when Sam Freeman and Fernando Salas surrendered solo-homers in consecutive innings.

Zack Cox put up the best batting line for Memphis with his 15th double and third home run of the year. Lou Montanez went 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot, Jamie Romak drove in three runs (two counted as RBI), and Aaron Bates collected his first double.

Sunday, May 27th: Iowa 5 at Memphis 1
Lou Montanez, Mark Hamilton, and Ryan Jackson managed two hits each, but Jamie Romak was the only Redbirds to collect an extra-base hit, which was his sixth double. Memphis collected nine total hits and walked only once but put just three batters in scoring position.

Nick Additon was wild again for the second time this week and it showed up in the box score with four walks and a wild pitch in four innings. The southpaw surrendered three runs off seven hits but was able to limit the extra-base hits again with only a double. Adam Reifer added to the wildness with three walks of his own and yielded two runs in his 1 1/3 innings of work. Jess Todd calmed the storm with three scoreless innings and four strikeouts between Additon and Reifer.

Monday, May 28th: Iowa 8 at Memphis 2
Iowa finished off the four-game sweep at Memphis. No Redbirds batter had two hits for the third time this week, while the team combined for eight total and just two crossed the plate. Memphis performed just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Cedric Hunter and Eugenio Velez were the only two batters to record an extra-base hit, each with a double.

Brian Broderick, who yielded three runs off seven hits, and Barret Browning kept the game at a one-run deficit until Maikel Cleto (one run) and Clay Zavada broke the contest wide open with five runs yielded in the final two innings.

Who's Hot

Barret Browning: The Florida State alum made four appearances out of the pen to total 4.1 shutout innings. Browning struck out four and walked three batters. This season, he has held left-handed batters to a .216 batting average but has actually been more effective against right-handers (.167 batting average).

Sam Freeman: The second southpaw and reliever on the hot list this week, Freeman also made four appearances and was hit for a home run, but he limited the damage in his other three outings by not surrendering a run.

Who's Not

Nick Additon: One of two pitchers to make two starts this week, Additon's run allowed total added up to eight runs in nine innings. His peripheral stats were even worse as the Florida native walked nine batters and yielded 13 hits.

Brian Broderick: The other pitcher to make two starts this week, Broderick didn't fare much better than Additon. Broderick was hampered by an error in one start, but he allowed 11 total runs in just 7.2 innings, allowing five walks and striking out five.

Runners in scoring position: The offense not only failed to get many runners in scoring position (four or fewer runners in four of the seven games), but they also hit just .214 when they were able to do so. In all but one game, the Redbirds failed to produce more than three extra-base hits and were only able to hit as many as three in one contest. To put a cap on the offensive troubles, in three of the seven outings no Redbirds batter collected more than one hit.

Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)

May 22nd: San Diego Padres
3) Jedd Gyorko (third base, hits for a good batting average, average power, average defense): 2-for-5, home run, double, three RBI

9) Yasmani Grandal (catcher, average defense, switch-hitter, hits for solid average, average power): 2-for-4, walk, two RBI

May 23rd: San Diego Padres
3) Gyorko: 1-for-5

9) Grandal: 0-for-4, RBI, two strikeouts

May 24th: San Diego Padres
3) Gyorko: 0-for-6

9) Grandal: 2-for-4, double, RBI, walk

May 25th: Chicago Cubs
1) Brett Jackson (centerfield, five-tool player, solid gap power, strikes out too often): 0-for-2, RBI, walk, strikeout

3) Anthony Rizzo (first base, plus power to pull side, good patience, good defense, struggles against lefties): 0-for-1

8) Josh Vitters (third base, underperforming prospect, makes consistent contact but rarely walks, average power, fringe defense): 1-for-2, walk

May 26th: Chicago Cubs
1) Jackson: 2-for-4, home run, two RBI

3) Rizzo: 2-for-4, home run, RBI

8) Vitters: 1-for-2, home run, RBI

May 27th: Chicago Cubs
1) Jackson: 1-for-5, strikeout, stolen base

3) Rizzo: 1-for-3, double, two RBI, strikeout

8) Vitters: 2-for-5

May 28th, Chicago Cubs
1) Jackson: 2-for-4, triple, RBI, stolen base

8) Vitters: 2-for-5, home run, two RBI

The Cardinal Nation Top 40

1. Shelby Miller: The Texas native didn't walk a batter in his lone start this week, but again failed to go six innings. The three runs he surrendered in 5.1 innings increased his season earned-run average slightly to 4.38 in 10 starts. Miller is averaging just south of five innings per start and has yet to take off this season.

5. Zack Cox: The former Razorback put together a decent week by collecting hits in all but one start. Cox had just a .250 batting average, but he hit his third home run and struck out just three times. His batting line of .214/.254/.357 leaves much to be desired, but there's hope he'll heat up along with the weather.

13. Ryan Jackson: The shortstop remains steady with a .296 batting average, and though Jackson has 10 errors, he has looked fluid in the field. Jackson's OPS this season is .743 compared to .749 in Springfield last year, so he's continuing to quiet the doubters about his bat playing up a level.

14. Maikel Cleto: Cleto perhaps deserved the promotion to St. Louis as much as Chuckie Fick, as he has a 2.51 earned-run average in his last 10 appearances over 14.1 innings. In those innings, Cleto has struck out 19 batters and walked just five. His earned-run average of 2.30 in May has been more the indicator of how he's been out of the pen this season.

18. Joe Kelly: The former third-round pick was superb this week in a seven inning start where he allowed just one run to cross the plate off four hits and one walk. His groundball-to-flyball ratio (1.77) is actually down from his career minor league totals, but he's still posting very solid numbers. Kelly remains Memphis' most consistent starter.

19. Adam Reifer: Reifer made three appearances this week and allowed two runs in one of them to increase his earned-run average slightly to 4.38 in 21 appearances. Reifer and Cleto remain the most-used relievers at 21 each now that Chuckie Fick has been called up to St. Louis.

20. Mark Hamilton: The Baltimore native has struggled to start his season by hitting below .200 (.197), and though he has matched his home run total of last year of two, he's struggled mightily to hit for power thus far and has just one extra-base hit in his last 10 games.

21. John Gast: The southpaw has been a welcome addition to the Redbirds staff with two quality starts in two outings thus far and will be able to prove himself with two starts in Week 9.

25. Bryan Anderson: Anderson put together the best night of any Redbirds batter this season on Thursday with six hits (two doubles) and saw his OPS jump 50 points to .539.

34. Sam Freeman: See Who's Hot.

35. Pete Kozma: Kozma had another uneventful week by going 3-for-18, though two of those hits came in a two-home run game Thursday night. His batting line stands at .222/.285/.367.

40. Chuckie Fick: After being the most called upon relief pitcher with 21 appearances for the Redbirds, the Cardinals felt it was time to give him his first shot in the big leagues, as he replaced Fernando Salas' spot on the 25-man roster. Fick left the Redbirds with a 3.86 earned-run average in 21 appearances.

Transactions

5/22: Aaron Bates assigned to Memphis Redbirds. The first baseman was released by the Minnesota Twins after hitting .238.

5/23: Steven Hill promoted to St. Louis Cardinals. After seeing time at first base, catcher, and the corner outfield spots, Hill replaced Matt Carpenter, who was put on the 15-day disabled list.

5/26: Chuckie Fick promoted to St. Louis. After making the most appearances out of the bullpen for the Redbirds, Fick took Fernando Salas' spot on the 25-man roster.

5/26: Fernando Salas demoted from St. Louis. After struggling with a 6.32 earned-run average in 18 appearances for the Cardinals, Salas will return to Memphis to try regain his success from last season.

5/26: Nick Derba promoted from Springfield Cardinals. Memphis will now carry three catchers in Derba, Bryan Anderson, and Mitch Canham.

Upcoming

The Redbirds will welcome the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers) for the first and only time this season in a four-game set before heading off to Omaha to play the first-place Storm Chasers. Memphis will try to break their funk as the weather heats up.



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